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Monday, December 17, 2007

FINALS

One down; two exams to go. And a research prospectus that is due tomorrow at 1pm (coincidentally, my exam tomorrow is also at 1pm).

Today's statistics:

1. One bad dream that I slept until 7:59am and missed all of the trains to Baltimore.
2. Two cups of coffee before 9am (dark: French Roast).
3. Three trips to the library bathroom before noon.
4. Four... number of times I went through my flash cards before my epidemiology final (and I think it paid off; the test went fairly well).
5. Five hours of sleep last night.

Monday, December 10, 2007

LESSONS LEARNED ABOUT HOME OWNERSHIP

Sometimes we just have to experience things first-hand and then learn from our mistakes. This is what I learned this past week...

On Friday morning I returned home from a run to a house that smelled funny - a combination of smoke/fire and a high school chemistry lab. Noticing that one of the knobs to our gas stove was not exactly in the off position, I attributed the smell to our gas range. I preceded to make myself some tea and sat down in my sunroom with my epidemiology take-home exam. About an hour later, half of the electricity in my house went out (and in some areas of the house, we had a brown out) and my carbon monoxide detector went off. When the CO detector went off, I didn't know what it was at first, but I followed the sound upstairs.

LESSON #1 LEARNED:
test home alarm systems when they are installed so you know what they are when they go off. This will be helpful in the event of an emergency.

When I walked into the room with the CO detector, I assumed that the power outage/problem was the reason for the alarm going off. I was wrong! The alarm was beeping and the normally green light had switched to red with a warning "move to fresh air". Not sure what to do next, I unplugged the detector (because it was so loud), found the cat, moved into the bedroom, opened all the windows, and called David. In a word, I panicked.

LESSON #2 LEARNED:
Know what to do when house alarms go off or problems occur. Knowing who to call and how to respond is just as important as installing the CO detector. A family plan for how to respond is necessary.

LESSON #3 LEARNED:
Husbands do not know everything. And no good can come from you calling them panicked.

As I was on the phone with David, the DC Fire Department pulled up in front of our house; blocking the street with their giant fire truck. I ran outside to find out what was going on... It turns out that one of my neighbors called the fire department because they, too, had a terrible smell in their house and they noticed that smoke was billowing out of a manhole in the middle of our street.

LESSON #4 LEARNED:
The fire department, along with the police and EMS, are here to help. When something isn't right, it is better to be safe than sorry. Don't be afraid to call them even if you are unsure about what is going on. In my case, I should not have burning chemicals smell in my house. This is one of those times when calling the fire department is a good/prudent idea

The fire department suspected that there was an electrical burn under our street (all power lines in DC are below ground). To be sure, the firemen came through our house (twice) to investigate the smell and check for hot spots around our fuse box and outlets. Pepco, our local power company, showed up (quite casually, I might add) about an hour and a half later. It was determined that the fire was under the street. It took them more than nine hours to get the problem under control.

When I talked to Pepco about the fumes in my house and my CO alarm going off, I was assured that everything was safe because the Pepco employees don't need to wear protective gear and they work in the fumes every day... this coming from the guy who was smoking less than five feet from the manhole that had smoke coming out of it.

LESSON #5 LEARNED:
It is better to have a cold house than a smelly house. I aired our house out for another 45 minutes and then left for the afternoon. When I returned we still did not have power (which means no heat), but the smell was almost gone.

Friday, November 30, 2007

BUILDING TRADITIONS

It's been a little over a week since David and I hosted our first real Thanksgiving dinner. I say 'real' because we actually hosted Thanksgiving right before we got married, but we hosted in my basement apartment on Capitol Hill on a card-table my parents brought from Pittsburgh. This Thanksgiving was the first at our new home with our wonderful dining room table.

Since my courtship with David was such a whirlwind - 9 months of dating and 5 months being engaged - we didn't have time to establish many traditions before we got married. In the nearly two years that we've been married, we've put some thought into what traditions we want for our family. So far the traditions are few and far between. We celebrate Easter with a seafood dinner (have had three together so far), and Thursday nights are ALWAYS date night.

Several events took place during our Thanksgiving weekend that we'd like to keep as traditions... First, pizza is the ideal meal to have the night before Thanksgiving. It is easy to make, is unlike anything that will be eaten on Thanksgiving, leftovers can be wrapped in Al foil, and there will be someone in the house willing to have a slice for breakfast on Thanksgiving morning.



We also hope that spending time on the Mall over the holiday weekend becomes a tradition. We took my parents and grandmother for a walk around the Mall on Thanksgiving morning and enjoyed the spring-like 70 degree weather. We returned to the Mall on Friday, and it was COLD. We spent most of the afternoon in the natural history museum. The highlight of the museum was the 3-D movie Seamonsters. Here are a few pictures...(yes, that is my father hiding in the bushes!)





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As for Christmas traditions, we are planning to take Christmas cookies and candy to all of our neighbors. I'm also planning on taking some to the train conductors during finals week. I'm also hoping that we can spend an evening at the National Botanical Gardens. We went last year to see the Christmas decorations at night and it was wonderful. If we do it again this year, does that make it a family tradition?

Monday, November 19, 2007

PHOTOS ONLINE

It only took me three months...I have finally organized the pictures from our trip to Taiwan. You can watch the slideshow here or visit my online photo album. There are a lot of food pictures. This is what happens when you are married to a 'foodie'. The food pictures fall into three main categories - Buddhist vegetarian (read: food that looks like meat, but is WHEAT), Taiwanese BBQ, and shrimp.



This past weekend I spent a lot of time studying. I had to complete an epidemiology take-home quiz on Saturday and then had to study for a statistics exam, which was this morning. Only one class left (epidemiology on Wednesday AM) before the Thanksgiving holiday. I'm really looking forward to four days without classes, and it will be fun having my parents and grandma in town for the holiday (hosting makes me feel very grown up!).

Tonight David and I are going to do our Thanksgiving dinner grocery shop (minus the seafood, which we won't get until Thursday). My parents and grandmother arrive on Wednesday. I'm planning to make homemade pizza (using Jill's crust recipe) on Wednesday. We'll have a traditional Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday (minus the pumpkin pie because no one in my family seems to like it). We'll be having apple crisp instead (another recipe from Jill). Friday is my dad's birthday. David is putting together a menu for a celebratory birthday dinner and our friend, Harriet, is planning to join us for the evening.

Luckily I am feeling rather domestic right now (I'll use anything as an excuse to not study!)...

Sunday, November 11, 2007

GIRLS JUST WANT TO HAVE FUN

Saturday evening Andrea, Angie, and I hosted a ladies dessert and game night at my house. We invited the past and present females who have led the youth group at our church and the moms of the youth. In all 12 ladies showed up - more moms than leaders - and we had such a fun time.

We started the evening off with hot drinks, chips, and several rounds of Catch-Phrase. We then took a break for ice-cream sundaes and more hot drinks before playing a round of "date, dump, or marry" and Phyllis' Bowl Game. I would like to point out that I don't actually own the "date, dump, or marry" game. We, being the crafty people that we are, put together our own list of men and played the game with that. The night was filled with a lot of laughter, which was so good for my soul. One of the highlights of the evening, for me, was hearing one of the moms ask when we were going to do this again. That is definitely a mark of good party.

I loved that I was able to host the event at our house. It is such a gift to share our space with others and to fill the whole home with laughter. Additionally, since we served ice-cream sundaes, I got to use my separated crystal dish for the hot fudge and caramel sauces. My Grandma Smullin gave me this dish at my Pittsburgh wedding shower. With the gift came a note from my grandmother reminding me of her promise to me years ago that she would give me the dish (which I love) when I got married. Unfortunately I have not had the opportunity to use the dish since my Pittsburgh shower (which was just about two years ago). It was so wonderful getting the dish out and then sharing the card from my grandmother with all the ladies at the party. Plus it the PERFECT for serving two sauces.

The dish, pictured here filled with homemade hot fudge sauce (also Grandma's recipe, which she kindly shared before I got married!) and caramel sauce, surrounded by brownies, ice-cream, strawberries and other sundae toppings. Yummy!!!! Angie is the one digging into the ice-cream in the background.

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In other news, I have one exam and a quiz before the Thanksgiving holiday. I'm so looking forward to the LONG weekend away from school. The end of November/beginning of December is going to be full of papers, quizzes, exams, and homework. I plan to work hard, but also make time to make Christmas cookies and candy, address Christmas cards, SHOP, enjoy the parties and other festivities, and celebrate my 30th birthday.

David and I are hosting Thanksgiving next week! My mom, dad, and grandmother are coming into town for the holiday. And we have some DC friends planning to join us, too. For all of you out there wondering about whether or not the vegetarians will be serving turkey, the answer is yes. We will be making a turkey breast and also serving some sort of shrimp dish (for those of us not planning to eat the turkey). And we'll be making a veggie-friendly gravy so that it can be enjoyed by all!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

KEVIN, THESE ARE FOR YOU...

Pictures from my wedding - Bethann, Andrea, me, Mom, Becky, and Angie. Small people in front are Elizabeth and Rachel.



And here is A.B.B.A (Andrea, Becky L, Becky SD, and Angie) with Rachel T. and Janelle.



And here is A.B.B.A the morning Becky L left DC in May.



And this is my "cat cam"...

Monday, October 29, 2007

MARATHON BLUES

I woke up yesterday morning ALONE. David wasn't around to sip coffee, chat, or race off to church with me. I had a lot of time to myself to reflect on the day... It was a sunny day, just a few puffy white clouds in the sky. It was a little chilly, 53 degrees around 8am. It was the perfect day to run a marathon, and I was insanely jealous of the 30,000 people gathering near Arlington National Cemetery to run the Marine Corps Marathon.



David and I have run the Marine Corps Marathon the past two years. We (READ: I) decided not to run it this year because I wanted to run a new course in a different city. The plan was to run the NYC Marathon (which is this coming Sunday), but I failed to get a spot through the lottery. Angry that I didn't get into NYC, I didn't even think about what it would be like to not run a marathon this fall...

Now that I've experienced not running a marathon, I'm a little bummed out. Not only that, but I'm running really well these days. Two weekends ago I ran a five-miler in 43 minutes (a personal best). I think I'm just about ready to run a sub-50 minute 10K. It would have been wonderful to run a marathon while in this type of shape! I guess I will have to take my no-marathon-running blues and use it to motivate me...

There's talk among two different groups of my friends about possibly training for a triathlon in the spring, which would be great. I really enjoyed the last one that I did. And there's also talk of a Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot or running another local 10K in the coming weeks. In May I'll put my name into the lottery once again for the NYC marathon. If I get denied this year, I'll definitely sign up for the 2008 Marine Corps Marathon AND will be guaranteed entry into the 2009 NYC race (because they let you in if you try three times and are denied).

Here's to a new year (beginning today) of fast running, lots of fun outdoors, no injuries, and no regrets...

Saturday, October 27, 2007

SCENES FROM AROUND THE HOUSE

This morning David left around 8am for a weekend fishing trip in North Carolina with the guys from his Friday morning breakfast/prayer group. I'm home alone...I've enjoyed the quiet house today, but as the evening settles in and I am forced to eat dinner by myself I am feeling a little lonely. Luckily I have tons of homework and Sydney Bristow to keep me company. And David should be calling here soon - it's too dark now for him to be out on a fishing boat.

Here's some pictures from around the house this weekend.

A view of the maple tree outside our bedroom window. Its leaves have turned magnificent shades of red and orange during the past week.



Unfortunately, the beautiful leaves do fall off of the tree. We have a lot of raking to do...



Artwork hung...we've finally got pictures on the walls. Here's a view of our new plant and the picture we hung in the sunroom (still no furniture in this room, but the plant and painting look great!).



And these are some of the prints we hung in our living room.



And here is a snapshot of our bathroom. David and I agreed that adding a little color to the bathroom was a good thing. And several pictures a friend gave to us match the shower curtain perfectly.




Also, our fine neighborhood of Petworth was highlighted in Wednesday's edition of the Washington Post Express as one of the "Hot Zones" for home buyers in the DC area. We're really excited to be living here - love the house, the neighborhood, and the location! Glad the Express sees things our way, too.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

COFFEE

This morning was morning number two that REQUIRED coffee.

Tomorrow... no coffee!



I really do not want to be addicted to caffeine. Several years ago (2004) I gave up all caffeine cold-turkey. I was preparing for my first (and only) triathlon, and one of my Team In Training teammates was singing the joys of being caffeine-free. He said he felt more hydrated, better rested (from sleeping better without caffeine in his system), and ultimately more energized. I wasn't sure what to believe but thought I'd give giving caffeine up a try. The initial consequences of going cold-turkey were awful. I had a terrible headache for about five days. Blah. After the headache went away, I did feel better. And I liked not having to have coffee in the morning.

David and I started dating about seven months after I gave up caffeine. David loves coffee and tea as well as a cold diet coke. I started "socially drinking" with him - enjoying a sip of coffee here, a new tea flavor there, and a big swig of diet coke when the mood struck - about six months into our relationship. I gave up my legalistic "I'm not going to ever have any caffeine attitude" in the fall of 2005. During the past two years, I've enjoyed coffee and tea and the occasional diet coke, but I have not gone back to my old ways of having a cup of coffee (or two) every morning. It just doesn't suit me to HAVE to have a cup in the morning.

Obviously my attitude has changed slightly over the past couple of days. Tomorrow I'm going back to no caffeine. And am hoping that two mornings of joe will not cause caffeine withdrawl headaches.

The one thing I will miss tomorrow morning is the smell of a hot pot of coffee. It is truly a wonderful smell first thing in the morning.

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Update: our camera is back. We had to send it to Sony to have a battery issue fixed (thank goodness it is still under warranty). I'm hoping to post some pictures of the beautiful maple tree in our front yard, our new house plants, and some art work we purchased a couple of weekends ago at IKEA.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

MIDTERMS

No time to blog; MUST STUDY.

Yesterday was my epidemiology midterm. Today is Health Survey Research Methods. Next week I have a research proposal for Health Survey Research Methods due and have yet to pick a topic or begin researching. Also next week I have to make a presentation on the epidemiology of the Salk polio vaccine trials and steps towards global eradication of polio.

And I have a large problem set for statistics due on Thursday.

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!



Last night was a late night (after midnight and awake before 6am) - so late that I made a pot of coffee this morning and brought my sippy cup (READ: travel mug) with me to school. For years I've been so proud that I don't NEED to drink coffee in the morning; rather I can enjoy a cup socially or reward myself after a long day of work or studying. This morning I NEEDED a cup. Sorta' feel like I'm an addict (and a failure for not being able to stay awake and focus on my own), but also realized that I need to be awake to study this morning and for my exam this afternoon (1-4pm).

Prayers that I can grasp the information, focus, and stay awake would be appreciated.

Monday, October 15, 2007

A REFLECTION ON MY SENSE OF SMELL

I think I have a very good sense of smell. And I love to smell - smells of coffee, cookies baking, roses, lilies, David's post-shaving moisturizer, rain on dry pavement/cement, burning leaves, and freshly cut grass are among my favorite smells.

I'm one of those people who can walk into a room and say (with confidence), 'it smells like ___________.' For instance, the entrance/hallway at David's mom's condo smells like dill pickles. I'm also really sensitive to smells. The smell of egg shells left in the sink for as little as an hour can turn my stomach; as can strong perfume/cologne smells. This morning I was sitting on the train heading into Baltimore eating my luke-warm oatmeal when an individual sat down behind me drenched in a floral-medicinal perfume. The stench was appalling. I could basically taste it with every bite of oatmeal. Not wanting to make a sense, I didn't turn around to give the woman sitting behind me a look of disgust. I just sat there, finished my breakfast, and did some work. When I got up to exit the train, I was surprised to find that the feminine smell behind me was not from a woman, but a man. He was wearing what I would call a perfume. It was horrible; not just a bad smell, but a man wearing perfume. (For those of you reading that remember the 'sex panther' incident at ASTHO, the scent was just as strong on the train, but more feminine than Jason's cologne.)

In addition to having a heightened sense of smell, smells also bring back memories (like a flood) for me. For instance, the smell of cleaning products with bleach remind me of swimming pools and I love that smell. More specifically, the smell of the coffee shop on the first floor at school combined with the hotdog vendor located on the other side of the doors from the coffee shop reminds me of club swim meets as a child. Our team, the Hampton Dolphins, used to have these enormous spreads of food to keep people full during the meet (I also think that secretly the mom's just wanted to do something other than sit in the stands for 6 hours on Saturday afternoons; at least at the snack stand, they could talk and be away from their kids and the hot pool area). Another smell that brings back memories is the McDonald's dumpster area at 13th Street and New York Ave, NW. I'm not sure what it is, but that corner always smells like the cafeteria at the pool/compound where we trained in Puerto Rico. Just the thought of those NASTY meals and the endless hours of swimming, makes me cringe!

I also believe my sense of smell is directly correlated with my need to use a lot of deodorant. According to both my mother and David, I go through deodorant at rate faster than normal. I attribute this to my HATRED of body odor smells. One of my worst fears (under my fears of suffering second-/third-degree burns on most of my body, drowning, having to ride a horse, and finding a snake in my house) is having body odor. I'll do anything to prevent it. Thus my need to use a little more deodorant than the next guy/gal.

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Weekend Update: Us city kids (READ: David and I) went to the countryside (Quantico, VA) to do some hiking this weekend. It was wonderful. We stopped at IKEA on the way home and bought some art for the walls in our living room. We hung pictures on Saturday night before heading over to our neighbor's house for an Octoberfest party. Yesterday I spent the vast majority of the day doing homework and completing a take-home quiz.

This week... more studying. Friday we are having my former colleague, Heather, and her husband as well as my former boss, Pat, over for dinner. Then it is study, study, study. I have two mid-terms next week and two papers due the following.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

COULD IT BE FALL?

This morning I woke up to a cool breeze blowing through my bedroom windows. And when I checked the weather on the computer, it reported that it was 52 degrees in Washington DC. Could it be fall? Are the October days of 90 degree weather with high humidity over? Please, please, please say that it is so!

As I dressed this morning in our cool house, I put on my first sweater of the season - my light yellow turtleneck.



I can only hope that that the cool fall-like weather is here to stay.

Monday, October 8, 2007

THE WEEKEND OF A GRAD STUDENT

This weekend I did my best to balance my social life with my need to study. I also had to sneak in a couple of chores.

On Friday, I got up early and worked for about six hours on my lab project. Right now I'm cleaning up data I've collected from an online genetic database. The work is tedious and long (I have 139 pages of data collected). I then went for quick run, with a stop at the local bank to close my checking account. My run was fabulous (ending in running the steps at Malcolm X Park - pictured here - three times).

I then rushed home and got ready for a night out with the girls...

I met up with Andrea and Angie on Friday night and we went with three of the girls from our church youth group to a high school football game. It was a lot of fun and brought back a lot of memories (both good and bad) from high school. I got home around 11pm and went straight to bed.

Saturday morning David and I got up early. He did chores; I studied. Mid-morning we went out for a run (about 4 miles) that ended in a sprint up the hill from Rock Creek Park to Connecticut Ave. We returned home and I began studying again. Saturday night we had dinner with our friends, Ted and Martha. After dinner David went to a concert in the neighborhood. I stayed up until after 1am and studied.

Sunday we went to church. We came home and I studied. During my afternoon study break, I swept the floors and talked to my parents and Andrea on the phone - nice multitasking. I also made chocolate bundt cakes, which I made into ice-cream cakes (after they had cooled) by cutting off the top of the cake and sticking in a layer of ice-cream (as you'll read a little further down, today is Andrea's birthday).

After the break, I studied some more. David and I ate dinner together and then went for a nice walk through Columbia Heights. The highlight of the walk was that the Sunday night drummers at Malcolm X Park were still drumming when we walked into the park. It was the first time I heard the drummers this summer - they are wonderful. After we got home from our walk, I hit the books again.

This morning I completed the statistics exam I had been studying for around noon. I've decided that after a lot of studying this weekend I need some time off. I'm going to go to the gym, nap on the train ride home, and go out to celebrate Andrea's birthday this evening (I'm also going to have some homemade ice-cream cake!). When I return home, I'm going to spend no more than one hour finalizing a paper that is due tomorrow.

Tomorrow morning I'll get up and do it all over again. Only this time, I'll be studying for mid-terms in epidemiology and health survey research methods and preparing for a 20 minute oral presentation in infectious disease epidemiology.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

Last week my college roommate, Jill, posted an entry on her blog about how trashy the Washington Redskins cheerleaders are. To quote Jill, "their skimpy bikini-uniforms were almost pornographic." Jill's entry reminded me of how much I don't like cheerleaders. Like Jill, I'm proud to be a Pittsburgh Steelers fan because (among other reasons) the team does not have cheerleaders.

After reading Jill's post, an article in yesterday's Washington Post Express' Fit Section caught my eye... The Washington Redskins Cheerleaders are taking their show on the road (so to speak)... They are now teaching cheerleading fitness classes at various Washington Sports Clubs around the city. Decked out in their skimpy bikini shorts and tight shirts, they are teaching cheerleading in exercise classes. According to the article, "Members of the squad are taking their show to local Washington Sports Clubs for a handful of workshops where anyone (female or male) can learn the secrets of their struts... Their revealing gear — tight white hot pants, knee-high white boots and skinny black T-shirts — shows the stunning end result of at least two grueling, four-hour practices each week."

ARE FREAKING KIDDING ME?

Do people really pay for this kind of stuff? The article in the Express closed with an interview with one of the male participants in the cheerleading class at the Bethesda Washington Sport's Club. He said, "No French guy would pass up this opportunity, even if I am making a fool of myself."

Are these women proud of what they do? Hello...you are objectifying yourself!

In conclusion, I will not be taking a class at the Washington Sports Club. I'm going to stick to my gym on the 9th Floor of the Pratt Street Parking Garage in Baltimore.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

SMOKING IN BALTIMORE


For the past month I've been traveling into and spending my days in Baltimore. Each morning my train passes by the Raven's stadium (where I silently boo) and then past Camden Yards. After getting off of the train, I walk through a construction site (future home of the Baltimore Hilton) and then to campus (which is a construction site, too - new student center coming in 2009).

My overall impression of Baltimore has not been that positive, but we'll give it another month or two. However, I would like to comment on the number of people who smoke in Baltimore. It seems like everyone in the city smokes - constuction workers, train conductors, train maintenance staff, staff at CVS, hospital staff - EVERYBODY (or so it seems). My second-hand smoke exposure has risen exponentially in the past month.

The worst place to walk by is the front of the university hospital. I avoid the block of Green Street between Lombard and Baltimore Streets at all costs. Everyone, from hospital staff to patients to visitors to taxi drivers, sits outside the hospital and smokes. It is disgusting.

On the north side of the hospital (along Baltimore Street) there is a bus station/stop area. This is also a hot spot for smokers. Last week I had to walk down Baltimore Street after a quick run to the CVS for more index cards to make flash cards. I walked through the bus station/stop area to get back to school. The sidewalk is pretty wide through this area, but somehow I got cornered into a wall by a large man smoking a cigarette. He was talking on his cell phone and walking all over the place. As he cornered me onto the edge of the sidewalk, he flicked his cigarette ashes onto my arm, which hurt. I said, "ouch" to which he replied, "Oh, baby, look out where you are going!"

ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?!

First of all, I'm not your baby and second of all you just burned me with your cigarette.

JERK!

I was so dumbfounded by him burning me and then not apologizing that I didn't have a word to say to him. I have a few choice words now...probably best that I didn't have them then.

Anyways, I am learning where to walk and not walk to decrease my exposure to second-hand smoke in Baltimore. And come January, people in the state of Maryland will not be allowed to smoke in restaurants and bars. Wonder what that will do to the number of outside smokers in downtown Baltimore?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

YOU KNOW YOU'RE A GRAD STUDENT WHEN...

1.) Your lab work space is in a closet (pictures will be coming).

2.) The computer in said work space is a dinosaur (logging in is at least a five minute process).

3.) You've covered four chapters of statistics in seven class periods. And five chapters of epidemiology in six.

4.) Sitting through three hour lectures is the norm.

5.) Naps become scheduled events during your day.

6.) You feel guilty for not reading, studying, or looking over school work when you have some down time. You especially feel guilty for reading TIME, Entertainment Weekly, and, sometimes even, the Washington Post Express.

7.) You're getting up at 5:30am, jumping on the train, and eating breakfast while on the way to school (not eating at home allows for an extra 10-15 minutes of sleep).

8.) You can wear jeans ANY DAY OF THE WEEK!

9.) You get excited at the thought of new pens, markers, and highlighters.

10.) Flashcards are everywhere - on your desk, in your backpack, at the kitchen table, in the bathroom, etc...

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Now, don't get me wrong...I'm enjoying school. But I am overwhelmed by the amount of work and sort of uncomfortable in my lab space where I spend 20 hours a week working on a genetic epidemiology project. All in all, it is good. Mid-terms are in three weeks and my first quiz is next week.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

MY FAVORITE APPLIANCE

As mentioned in my post announcing our new house, we bought a new washer and dryer. I also promised to tell you all about them. So, here it is...


The only appliances we lacked upon moving into our new place were a washer and dryer. When we put together our offer for the house, our wonderful real estate agent suggested that we ask for a washer/dryer credit from the seller (it is a buyers' market, ya' know?!). We received the credit and my father assured me that we could install a dryer vent in our laundry room. So we went shopping!

I did some online research and then one Sunday evening David suggested going to Sears to look at our options. Our plan was to just look and not buy until after we had closed on our house. However, plans change! We got to Sears in the middle of a 20% off all major appliances sale. And we couldn't say no. We bought our washer and dryer - they are RED - and scheduled to have them delivered the Sunday after we moved in.

I did my first load of laundry on Labor Day Monday. And it was fantastic. Not only is EVERYTHING digital (you just hit the casual clothes button and it washes your clothes - no choosing a water level, water temperature, nothing), but it is also a front-loader. So I can sit on the floor of the laundry room and watch my clothes being washed (I've only done this once). Additionally, both the washer and dryer are HUGE. I've washed my clothes in an apartment-sized washer for the past five years. I was so excited to wash all of my sheets and pillowcases in one load!

I've also learned a couple of lessons during the past few weeks with the new washer and dryer...

1) the water to the washer must be turned on before trying to wash. On our first washing attempt, we got an error message within minutes of starting the cycle. Turns out my dad turned the water to the washer off. Lesson learned: turn water on before each load.

2) the salesmen at the store sometimes get confused and pass along misinformation. I remember our Sears salesman telling me that you can store detergent and fabric softener in the machine. He reported that there is a sensor that knows how much soap to use with each load. This is not true. I dumped about a half gallon into our machine for the first wash and all of it was used in a single load. Lesson learned: read directions.

3) for high efficient washers you do need to buy a special kind of detergent. I went out and bought two huge containers of Arm and Hammer brand 'HE' detergent on Labor Day (we only did one load with regular detergent). The 'HE' stuff is a little bit more expensive, but I am proud to say that I bought mine on sale - buy one get one free. I do have a nearly full bottle of Arm and Hammer detergent for regular machines. If you'd like it, please let me know.

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SCHOOL UPDATE: I'm finished with week three. Things are going well... I decided to take four classes this semester: Principles of Biostatistics, Principles of Epidemiology, Infectious Disease Epidemiology, and Health Survey Research Methods. I really like the Infectious Epi class and the professor for the surveys class is great. I'm enjoying the train rides to/from Baltimore - I'm productive in the morning and nap in the afternoon. Plus, having space at home to study and a short three minute walk to the Metro is fantastic. My rotations begin in the new week or so, my schedule will quickly fill up with 20 hours of work each week. I'll be sure to tell you all about it...

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

URBAN LIVING

This is what they mean by row houses. This is the side view from our front porch.












The view of the moon (which is in the lower left-hand side of the sky) as seen from my bathroom skylight around 8:30am.










And, as you can see, Chai has adjusted well to his new environment. Here he sits in the front doorway. He's able to monitor who comes in and out of the front door, who is in the living room, who is coming up the steps from downstairs and who is in the kitchen. Maybe in another life he was a watch dog...

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

(NEW) HOME, SWEET HOME



So...we bought a house. We closed on Thursday evening and moved on Saturday. The house search was easy. We visited about a dozen homes in early July. David fell in love with 'our house' the moment he walked in the door. I needed about 24 hours and visits to a handful of other houses before I was ready to say 'this is the one.' So... we own a home. No more living in a one-bedroom apartment. No more living below ground. No more washing clothes in the smallest washing machine ever (more details about my new washer and dryer to come!). No more rent!

Our house is fantastic. It is a lovely DC row house about a block and a half from the metro (it took me 4 minutes to get to the station this morning and this includes the precious seconds I took to kiss David good-bye). It has three bedrooms upstairs and a finished basement (with laundry room!!). The laundry room is about the size of my small bedroom in my Capitol Hill apartment. We have a little backyard and we will need a lawn mower. And the best part (especially for two people who have lived nearly 20 cumulative years in basement apartments) is that we have a sun room and a front porch. I sat outside and read my TIME magazine yesterday and watched the sun set behind my neighbor's house. It was delightful!

My parents were in town for our big move and were so helpful. My dad vented my new dryer, changed our locks, moved furniture, packed the truck, and (most importantly) drove the 14 foot moving truck through the narrow DC streets. My mom cleaned everything, made sure both of our bathrooms had toilet paper and hand soap, met all of our neighbors, made several trips to the grocery store for snacks and drinks, and helped get everything organized. I could not be more grateful to them!

Chai moved in on Sunday and has adapted well. Yesterday I found him sprawled out on our bed basking in the sunshine in the morning. In the afternoon, he found comfort on the bottom of our bookshelf.

As we unpack the remaining boxes, await the delivery of my new desk, and pick out new furniture, I'll be sure and keep you posted. And for all of you non-DC folks, we now have a spare bedroom - please come and visit.

Friday, August 24, 2007

MY FAVORITE JEANS


This being my last week of summer vacation, I decided to do some things I probably won't have time to do once school starts on Monday. One of those activities was cleaning out my closet. In addition to throwing away/donating two garbage bags of clothes and shoes, I also found (in the far, dark corner of my closet) my favorite pair of jeans. Now, you might ask yourself "why are her favorite jeans hidden in the back of her closet?" and the answer is quite simple... I should have thrown these jeans away at least two years ago. There are three holes in the seat of the pants - two of those holes are three inches long. In addition to the holes, the jeans are about to fray in the knees and the bottoms are shredded. They look ratty and are inappropriate to wear in public, but I love them. I have been holding out hope that they will miraculously fix themselves.

Not wanting to get rid of these jeans once and for all (especially not when I'm heading back to school and it is okay for me to wear jeans), I turned to the only resource I thought could help... the internet. I googled the make, size, and style of my favorite jeans. And after over an hour of searching, I found an ebay vendor who was selling a pair of my favorite jeans. Without hesitation I placed a bid! The auction ends on Monday. So far I am the only bidder. With any luck, I will have in my possession in the next couple of weeks a replacement pair of my favorite jeans. If I win the auction, I will throw my old jeans away.

Monday, August 20, 2007

TAIWAN

We returned home to DC last night after much drama at the airport in Taipei. We're still not sure what happened and are so thankful to be back home (24 hours early no less). More details about our airport woes later. I haven't had the time to go through the 300 pictures we took while in Taiwan, but did want to get some of my favorites online. We had a wonderful trip...

As I noted in my last post, it rained almost the entire two weeks we were in Taiwan. Here's a picture to give you some idea of the amount of rain we had.


Uncle David playing the Wii with Andrew and Matthew.


David and Robert battling it out during an intense game of Wii tennis!


Lucas, a loyal 10-month-old Steeler's fan in Taiwan.


Our family...


The menu at a BBQ restaurant in Taiwan. You just point at the fish you'd like and they'd prepare it perfectly for you. We had about six dishes at this restaurant. The squid and the shrimps were my favorites.


And one of my favorite sites in Taiwan... Did you know that the Promised Land is in eastern Taiwan? Well, according to this sign on the highway it is!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

IT'S RAINING OUTSIDE & I CAN'T GO OUT AND PLAY

Ah...my first posting from Taiwan. We are in Tainan visiting with David's family. We arrived last Monday - the weather was beautiful. A week ago, we hopped a train to the eastern side of the island for a week at the beach. Our plans were quickly changed by the first two typhoons of the season. We came back to Tainan late last week and have been stuck indoors ever since. It has been raining cats and dogs. There has been incredible thunderstorms (which my two year old nephew calls 'fireworks') and the flooding has been severe. We've spent our days playing Wii games, visiting David's mom, watching movies, visiting the world's largest department store, hanging out and eating some of the best food in the world. Tainan is known for its street vendors. Little 'mom & pop' shops on the side of the street each serving a single item - noodles, dumplings, prawns, seafood BBQ, and (my favorite) shaved ice with mangoes and a sweet syrup. I have tried some amazing food here! David has taken several food pictures that we will share once we are back in the states.

Yesterday David and I took our almost six year old nephew, Andrew, to see Ratatouille. It was a wonderful film. Pixar never disappoints. I highly recommend it.

We've heard that the rain might stop on Thursday, but we're not betting on it. We've also heard that another typhoon is scheduled to arrive on Saturday. In the meanwhile, we'll continue to play games, watch movies, play catch (with the soft ball), go swimming (indoors), and just hang out. David said before we left the United States that he'd be happy just sitting in a room with his brother and the rest of his family. He will go home happy.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Wii

Being the wonderful Uncle and Aunt that David and I are, we purchased a Nintendo Wii as a gift for our three nephews (and my VERY excited brother-in-law, Robert), who live in Taiwan. The Wii is not yet available in Taiwan; it is still hard to buy in the U.S.

After weeks of trying to track down a Wii, I secured one last week. On Monday it arrived in the mail. Since we are taking the Wii to Taiwan when we go next month, we thought it was prudent to try it out and make sure everything is in working order. It would be so disappointing to get to Taiwan and have a non-functioning video game system. Since David and I don't have a TV (yes, we are that crunchy - vegetarians without a TV in Washington DC), we had to beg our good friends, Ted and Martha, to allow us to come over to their house last night with our new video game system. Ted allowed it only because he was thinking of the children (read: our nephews). In truth, he and David were SO excited to try the Wii out. They were like little children on Christmas morning.

I, on the other-hand, was skeptical. I'm not a huge video game fan; never have been. When David and Ted busted out the Wii and started playing baseball, tennis, and duck hunting, I have to admit I was excited. The Wii is like no other gaming system. The games are easy to play and the controllers are SO easy to use. If you are golfing, you swing the controller like you'd swing a golf club. If you are playing baseball, one person pitches the ball and the other one swings the bat (as David and Ted are doing in the picture below).



Much to my surprise, I ended up playing a fishing game and a cow driving/racing game. And I enjoyed it! The cow driving/racing game, which is part of WiiPlay, was my favorite. I'm looking forward to playing some golf and tennis with my nephews when we are in Taiwan.

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SCHOOL UPDATE: I am registered for classes for the fall semester and am feeling completely overwhelmed. A full course load at Maryland is five classes per semester. This fall I will be taking: Principles of Epidemiology, Principles of Biostatistics, Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Health Education & Promotion, and Health Survey Research Methods. I'm going to school tomorrow to turn in some paperwork and get my student ID. I'm also hoping to visit the bookstore and buy my books.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

WHAT WOULD MACGYVER DO?


Last Thursday evening I found myself locked in a bathroom stall at Washington National Airport.


This is what happened... I waited in line to use the bathroom and when a stall finally opened up, I went in. Once inside, I realized that the handle/knob that one uses to engage the lock on the stall door was not there. Being the handy person that I am, I slid my finger into the hole and pushed the locking mechanism into place. Once I finished with my business, I realized that I had pushed the lock too far to the left and there was no way for me to disengage it.

I was locked in the bathroom stall!

It took me about three seconds to realize that I might have to crawl out under the stall. About two seconds after that thought crossed my mind, I decided there was NO WAY ON EARTH that I would crawl on the nasty public bathroom floor to get out. I'd sooner break the door down (that is what Sydney Bristow on ALIAS would do!). Instead of pulling a Sydney, I asked myself, "What would MacGyver do?"

In what is to date one of my prouder "MacGyver" moments, I used my fingers as a screwdriver and removed one of the screws holding the lock in place. Once the screw was removed, I had access to the lock and was able to disengage it by pushing it to the right.

I walked out of the stall, leaving the removed screw on the toilet paper dispenser, with a smile on my face. Knowing all the while that MacGyver (and Sydney Bristow) would be so proud.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

INDULGENT

In the past 24 hours, David and I have been to five CVSs across DC looking for the Wyler's Italian Ices that we like so much. With back-to-school supplies taking over the "seasonal" aisle at the CVS, the Ices have been hard to come by. Last night after visiting three stores, we could only secure one box of Ices (we ate all of the Ices we had at home). This evening we visited the Woodley Park CVS...no Ices. However, we hit the jackpot at the Adams Morgan CVS. They had 11 boxes!

Because we were on our way home from a run, neither David nor I had any money. We walked home, got some cash, and returned to the store where we bought eight boxes. Buying out the store seemed wrong. Buying eight was merely indulgent!

BECOMING COMPATIBLE GROCERY SHOPPERS

The first fight David and I had as a married couple took place in a grocery store. A Shopper's Food Warehouse, to be specific. We had been out returning wedding gifts post-honeymoon when we decided that we'd stop at the store to pick up some food since we had been gone for two weeks. We didn't make it through the fruits and vegetables before I was in tears, and David was frustrated beyond words. We didn't realize while we were dating or engaged that we are not naturally compatible grocery shoppers. David likes to meander around looking for seasonal items and crafting meals in his head. I'm more task-oriented. I want the basic necessities to get us through the week - what do we need for lunch? dinner? snacks? And most importantly, do we have cereal and milk in the house?

Before either one of us lost our cool (or walked out of the store ready to just throw in the towel), we took a seat in the store's cafe and tried to figure out how to make THIS - grocery shopping - work. The decisions we made in the Shoppers on that March evening have shaped our marriage, as well as our shopping habits and budgeting.

In the cafe, we designed a menu for the week - what we'd eat for lunch and dinner each day as well as what David would prepare on Friday mornings when the guys come over for breakfast. From the menu we crafted a shopping list. Knowing what we needed to buy made grocery shopping with David a pleasant experience.

Since March 2006, we have put together a menu and grocery list for each week. We have a stack of menus and shopping lists that we can use to craft future menus. Additionally, we got a subscription to EVERYDAY FOOD to help us come up with new menu ideas and eat more seasonal items.

I grocery shopped yesterday (with my weekly menu and list in tow), and it was quite successful. Because I bought only what we needed and knew what we needed before walking into the store, I did a complete shop in less than half an hour and spent only $51. This means that David and I will eat 15 meals (one a piece for lunch and dinner and him on Friday for breakfast) for $51. That is an average of $3.40 per meal. Not bad... Eating one lunch out during the week would be at least double that price (everything is expensive in DC!). And don't think that we're just eating ramon noodles and spaghetti-Ohs! We have a wonderful menu planned for this week. (See below...)

I'm proud of our shopping habits and the money we are saving. More importantly, I'm glad that our marriage survived the awful events that took place in the Shoppers Food Warehouse.

Menu for this week:

Monday: (lunch) portabella sandwich, yogurt, and fruit, (dinner) pesto pasta with 'chicken' and green beans

Tuesday: (lunch) green salad with tomato, avacado, and onion with a veggie burger, (dinner) curried lentils over rice

Wednesday: (lunch) PB&J sandwich, yogurt, and fruit, (dinner) mushroom melt sandwiches

Thursday: (lunch) grilled cheese and green salad, (dinner) tomato/cucumber salad in yogurt served with crackers

Friday: (breakfast) scrambled eggs and hash browns, (lunch) black beans and rice, (dinner) southwestern corn chowder

Saturday: (lunch) tofu, rice, and broccoli, (dinner) veggie burgers and fries

Sunday: (pre-church breakfast) oatmeal and 'sausage'

Monday, July 16, 2007

UPDATE: WRECKING BALL ACCIDENT IN MEADVILLE

According to Allegheny College:

As many of you will have read, a wrecking ball operated by a contractor broke loose of its cable on Monday, July 9 at a campus construction site and rolled 3,600 feet down North Main Street, damaging a number of parked cars and ending up in the trunk of a car driven by an Allegheny soccer player.

We are happy to report that the three people treated for injuries were all released from the hospital later in the day on Monday.

Police officers note that eight soccer balls in the student’s car may have kept the wrecking ball from causing more severe damage, as they provided an extra cushion of protection.

The construction site was at Pelletier Library, where contractors are removing large brick planters and a concrete plaza in a large-scale renovation project. The interior of the library is also undergoing a major makeover, with the main floor redone to include a computer classroom, study and collaborative work spaces, a café, a digital multimedia development suite, library services, and the Learning Commons. The library's other two floors are being renovated in stages to be completed in 2008.



I'm so excited that they are updating library. It sure needs it...

Saturday, July 14, 2007

ANOTHER YUMMY DINNER BY DAVID

Last night our friends, Jesse & Joan, and their five-year-old daughter, Genesis, came over for dinner. David completely outdid himself in terms of meal design and food presentation. The five courses he served were:

Appetizer: Fresh tomato and cold roasted eggplant with veggie seasoning and balsamic

First: Coconut milk/veggie stock soup with jumbo shrimps, fresh basil, and fried shallots

Second: Cold sesame noodles with shredded cabbage and carrots, gingered 'beef' strips, and blanched sugar snap peas

Dessert: small lemon cookies (my only contribution to the meal)

Finish: chocolate sorbet or butter pecan ice cream with strawberries, blue berries, and kiwi halves

***served with our house white wine (Picpoul de Pinet from Coteaux du Languedoc - 2006)

Friday, July 13, 2007

THESE ARE A FEW OF MY FAVORITE THINGS...

For breakfast: steel cut Irish oatmeal. Yes, it does take 30 minutes to make (and there is no microwave recipe), but it is so worth it. These oats really do "stick to your ribs" as my Grandma Milby would say. A quarter cup of these oats with some craisins, brownsugar, and walnuts is the perfect way to start the day!












My new sunglasses (as modeled by my carebear):













My new digital camera - the Sony Cybershot DSC T100 (which should be delivered on Monday). Our digital camera is a dinosaur. I'm so excited for a new sleek camera. It will be wonderful to have in Taiwan next month when we are on vacation.










Wyler's Authentic Italian Ices - the PERFECT summer snack. We are eating these things by the boxful. They are so much better than the traditional freezer pops that come in colors such as blue, pink, & purple. In DC the Wyler's Ices are only available at the CVS - luckily there is a CVS about 5 blocks from our home. I highly recommend the lemon and orange cream flavors!

Monday, July 9, 2007

CHAI

For those of you who don't know, I married into a cat. David adopted CHAI from the DC pound over 13 years ago. When David & I were engaged, I was planning to move into the apartment he had been living in for nearly ten years. The apartment was ideal for Chai - he had access to the great outdoors through the backdoor. About a month before we got married, David's apartment flooded - a pipe burst on the second floor on Christmas Day and no one was around to shut the water off. David's apartment was destroyed (thankfully our wedding gifts and the computer remained unharmed). We found our current apartment the week between Christmas and New Year's.

The new apartment is great and was a wonderful fresh start for David and me. The apartment, however, was not ideal for Chai. We were asked by our landlords to keep him inside at all times. They didn't want him in their backyard or on their front porch (they live in the house above us). So poor Chai is inside all day and night. To make matters worse, when we use our alarm system during the day, Chai has to be locked in the bathroom because we cannot get the 'stay' function to work properly.

I'm not a cat person. So having Chai in the house all the time has been a HUGE adjustment for me. He's pretty low maintenance, but is so needy at times. And I hate the smell of kitty litter, the sound he makes when he's digging around in his litter box, and all the freaking cat hair in our apartment. Chai's personality, however, is growing on me. He's sassy - he demands attention when he wants it and then walks away when satisfied. I'm learning to appreciate him and his way of life...

Chai and I have been bonding the past couple of weeks. Since I'm not working, he spends considerably less time in the bathroom. When I'm home he's free to roam around, sleep by the window, and get the needed attention he desires. One of Chai's quirks is that he doesn't like to drink water from a bowl. He prefers to get his drink from either a dripping faucet or the toilet bowl (he has fallen in!). The picture here shows Chai sitting in the bathtub waiting for someone to come in and turn on the water. If you don't turn the water on before sitting down to go to the bathroom, you are likely to have a kitty on your lap.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

A CAPITOL FOURTH!

Wednesday was the 4th of July, and there isn't a better place to see the fireworks than in Washington DC. I'm not sure I can write this with much authority. Aside from the DC fireworks, the only other fireworks I've ever seen were in Pittsburgh, Hampton Township, and Meadville, PA. I don't have much to make a comparison with; however the DC fireworks are amazing!

We BBQ-ed at our friend's, Steve, house in Georgetown and then ventured down to the Mall. At 5:15pm the Mall was evacuated because of a tornado warning; by 7pm people were being allowed to re-enter. We joined my friends, Angie & Andrea, on the steps of the Reflecting Pool around 7:30 and waited for the festivities to begin.


This year's fireworks were spectacular. I have now watched the fireworks in DC from four locations - the Capitol, the lawn of the Washington Monument, the steps of the Reflecting Pool, and a rooftop in Georgetown. In my opinion the best viewing spot is the steps of the Reflecting Pool. Not only do you get to see the fireworks being launched, but you can see their reflection in the pool. And the echo at that end of the Mall is incredible. Definitely the best spot in the city!

After the fireworks we took the bus home and caught most of the Columbia Heights neighborhood after-show. Kids and adults set off everything from sparklers and M-80s to actual fireworks. It is quite the sight to behold - a little scary at times too. Safety is not on everyone's minds. Before heading home for the night, we went to the rooftop deck of our landlord's house. From there we were able to see fireworks from miles away along with the neighborhood aftershow. It was beautiful.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

SUMMER VACATION


My last day of work was Thursday, June 28th. So yesterday was my first 'official' day of summer vacation. (I was off Friday, but it was my scheduled compressed day off so it didn't feel like anything new.) The agenda for my first day off was as follows...

7:15 - out of bed
8:00 - walked with David to the bus stop & then took an hour walk through the National Zoo
9:15 - returned home to make dinner, clean up a bit, eat breakfast, and prepare for the afternoon
11:45 - took bus to Andrea's house
12:45 - went with Andrea to the pool
1:00 - arrived at pool to sit in the sun & swim a few laps
5:00 - left pool & returned to Andrea's to watch M*A*S*H
6:45 - had dinner with Andrea & Angie
10:00 - returned home

It was a wonderful day. Above is a picture taken at the pool in East Potomac Park. What a view! (Yes, that is the Washington Monument in the background!)

While at the pool, I finished The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. What a great, easy read. I am going to go to the library tomorrow & get the Second Summer of the Sisterhood book.

I've been a homebody today, but am heading out to run some errands. I'll return home around 6pm to go for a run & make dinner. Tonight we are having mushroom melts & watermellon. Mmmmmmm....

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

SURPRISE!

This past Thursday we celebrated my Grandma Smullin's 90th birthday with a surprise party. More than 70 people - including all of her children and grandchildren, her favorite nephew from San Antonio and his new wife, her next door neighbors from 1960, and her best friend of nearly 70 years from Rhode Island - showed up for the celebration. It was wonderful. And a COMPLETE surprise to my grandmother!

Grandma thought she was attending an anniversary party for friends of my parents. When she arrived at the banquet hall, she was greeted and escorted into the party - then there was the big "SURPRISE". I don't think the idea of a surprise party registered in her mind for a few minutes. She was standing there trying to figure out how her neighbors from 40 years ago and her son and grandchildren from Texas would know the hosts of the party (she thought she was attending). When she finally figured out that it was HER party many hugs were given and a few tears were shed.

I didn't have much to do with planning the party itself. Instead I was responsible for the gift. We decided as a family that the party theme should be "we are your life story" since everyone at the party had impacted and been apart of my Grandmother's life. As I gift, we decided to put together a memory book - full of notes of remembrance, pictures, and stories. I had the honor of putting the book together and then presenting it to my grandmother at the party. The book ended up being 92 pages long and is full of pictures from 1917-2007. Since we couldn't pass the book around to all of the guests, I used powerpoint to show about 15 pages from the book.

Putting the book together and then presenting it to my grandma was a wonderful experience for me. It was fun reading stories about my grandmother from years ago and seeing pictures of her as a newlywed and new mom. I also got to see a picture of her holding me (the oldest of her six grandchildren) for the first time when I arrived home from the hospital on Christmas Day 1977. It was also wonderful to read and see how she has been such a good friend and role model to so many people throughout the years. I am so proud that she is my grandma!

You can view her memory book here.

TAGGED...

This morning at 10:00am EDT my college roommate and fellow blogger, Jill, meme-tagged me. Basically, tagging is a chain-letter for bloggers used to get to know us better (for more info check this out). I’m supposed to answer these questions and then ask 5 other bloggers to do the same. Unfortunately, all the bloggers I know have already been tagged...so I'm "it".

1. “What were you doing 10 years ago?”
I had just finished my first year of college. I was working 90+ hours a week lifeguarding and teaching swimming lessons at the Hampton Community Pool.

2. “What were you doing 1 year ago?”
Soul searching... I really wanted to quit my job, but wasn't sure what to do next. I spent the summer trying to solve my "quarter-life crisis".

3. “Five snacks you enjoy:”
Ice-cream, cereal, yogurt w/ granola or crasins, toast w/ PB&J, and baked tofu (aka tofu jerky)

4. “Five songs to which you know all the lyrics:”
Happy Birthday, Jesus Loves Me (this I know), Row Row Row Your Boat, and the theme song to The Brady Bunch -- I can't think of a fifth.

5. “Five things you would do if you were a millionaire:”
Start my own online scrapbook company, volunteer with the Gates Foundation, pay to get into the NYC Marathon, travel extensively throughout Europe, Asia, and Africa, and pay off my student loans.

6. “Five bad habits:”
Snacking between meals, grinding my teeth, biting my fingernails, running with bad posture, and hyper-extending my legs (at the knee).

7. “Five things you like doing:”
Running w/ David, spending Monday nights w/ the girls (ABBA), planning five course dinners w/ David, going to the pool, and reading.

8. “Five things you would never wear again:”
A paper racing suit (for competitive swimming), my favorite jeans (they ripped), ADIDAS running shoes (blister problems), non-daily disposable contacts, and colored blue jeans.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

GAME NIGHT

During the past school year, my friend, Andrea, and I have been hosting a monthly game night for the youth group at our church. In September, we split the kids into five teams, and they have been competing against one another for nine months. This past Tuesday was the year-end competition...

We asked the teams several trivia questions - testing their knowledge of each other, the adult volunteers, their youth pastor, and what they learned throughout the year. There were also a handful of physical challenges. The first required each team to dropped 24 mentos into a two liter of diet coke. (For those of you who don't know what happens when you mix diet coke and mentos, check this out!). The goal of this physical challenge was for each team to capture as much diet coke in a cup from their team's fountain.

The second physical challenge was a race...each team was given three bananas, and they had to peel the bananas (without injuring them) with their feet. What a sight to behold. We learned that peeling a banana with your feet is really a two person job. Teamwork was required to win this challenge. We then offered bonus points for each banana that was eaten. GROSS!




In other news:

Only four more days of work in the office and three at a conference in Atlantic City. Summer vacation is almost here!

I didn't get a spot in the NYC marathon. Bummer! I'm hopeful that I can get a spot from craigslist or ebay in the coming weeks.

Friday, June 8, 2007

CHAMPAGNE & SPARKLING WINE DINNER

Over Memorial Day weekend, David and I went to our favorite wine store in DuPont Circle, Best Cellars, to stock up on one of our favorite wines, which was on sale. I actually never made it into the store...I had to sit in the car, which was parked illegally, prepared to move it if the parking enforcement or a tow truck arrived. David returned from the store not only with the white wine we had planned to purchase, but also with a sparkling Shiraz (we have not tried it yet) and tickets for two to a champagne and sparkling wine dinner at Sonoma Restaurant. The dinner was gift to me in celebration of quitting my job and getting into Maryland's PhD program.

Last night was the dinner, and it was fantastic. Two men from Best Cellars and a woman from a restaurant in Georgetown served us champagne and sparkling wine with each of the four courses. They also taught us some of the basics for pairing food with wines. It was a lot of fun, and the food was fantastic. The menu included (highlighted in purple is my new favorite champagne):

salad of baby lettuces with local strawberries, goat cheese, & vincotto vinaigrette
Paired with: Champagne Jose Michel Blanc de Blancs 2000 Brut &
Domaine Daheuiller Cremant de Loire NV Brut

grilled fresh prawns with fregola couscous and remesco sauce
Paired with: Champagne Janisson & Fils Rose Brut & Amime Prosecco Rose Brut (which were both perfect with the prawns)

porchetta and braised chard with mustard sauce
Paired with: Schramsberg Blanc de Blanc Brut & Champagne Veuve Clicquot Rare Vintage 1988 Brut

sabayon with fresh local berries and pistachio tuille
Paired with: Champagne Laurent-Perrier Demi-Sec & Torley Fortuna Doux

Monday, June 4, 2007

COUNTDOWN

My countdown to my final day of work has begun... Only 15 days left; three of which will be spent in Atlantic City, NJ at the National Environmental Health Association Educational Conference. That leaves only 12 days left in the office. I'm so excited. My work 'to do' list is fairly long, but most of the tasks are administrative in nature - I want to leave things well organized when I leave. I'm really excited about what is to come (summer off and then back to school), but it has been hard saying good-bye to folks I've worked with for the past five years. I've made a lot of good friends while here.


Last week I got to see one of those friends, Tom, when I traveled out to Fort Collins, Colorado for a work meeting. Tom is a retired local health officer from Pitkin County, Colorado (Pitkin County is home to Aspen). I've had the pleasure of working with Tom for almost five years. I have learned so much from him - he worked in governmental public health for more than 30 years and now is a consultant. He and his wife, Lynne, are a joy to be around. I am going to miss running into both of them at meetings and conferences, but am hoping to visit them in Snowmass Village during a summer vacation. After a meeting at CDC, Tom took me and another colleague on a tour of Estes and Rocky Mountain National Parks. Pictured here is me with Tom (the best tour guide EVER) in Rocky Mountain National Park. Also pictured are the elk we saw while in the Park. While we were there, it snowed above the tree-line (elevation 12,000 feet +), which made for good pictures! The sights in the Park are breathtaking (the pictures do it little justice)...

I should know by next week if I got into the NYC marathon. I'll keep y'all posted... If I don't get into NYC, I'm thinking I'll wait until next spring and run either the San Diego or Los Angeles marathon (Jeff, hope you're still in on the west coast).

David and I are watching a lot of ALIAS these days. He finished Season 2 while I was in Colorado, and we are more than half way through Season 3.

Friday, May 25, 2007

TRUTH BE TOLD


I love the TV show ALIAS.

Truth be told... I am obsessed with ALIAS. Not only have I watched and analyzed every episode, but I also have some wonderful ALIAS friendships. My friend, Becky Lehman, and I watched every episode of seasons 3-5 together. The show is one of the foundations of our friendship - we're obsessed together. We once chased down a Postal Service employee to get a package from my mother containing a VHS tape of several episodes we had missed. We HAD to watch those episodes before the series finale. This past spring, Becky and I joined with our friends, Harriett and Lindsey, for an ALIAS season 5 marathon. We watched the entire season in one sitting - it was an amazing, action-packed day (9am - 1am).

I decided about a month ago that I was going to reward myself (with something) the day I resigned from my job. I mentioned to David not too long ago that I was thinking about buying myself all five seasons of ALIAS on DVD. Yesterday on our walk home from work, David surprised me with the ALIAS box set! The full set (pictured above) includes: EVERY MISSION. EVERY SECRET. EVERY ALIAS. What this boils down to is 29 discs, 105 episodes, a commemorative Rambaldi box (with a secret compartment containing another disc of unseen footage), and an ALIAS: Revealed book. I couldn't be more excited or more thankful to my husband for such a wonderful gift.

As you can probably imagine, I'm planning to watch the entire series during my summer sabbatical.

In addition to watching ALIAS and making ALIAS friends, I've also been sharing my love for ALIAS with members of the youth group at our church. I've been teaching the youth Sunday School class all year and ALIAS has some great material to teach from - friendship, honor, staying true to oneself, trust, deception, betrayal, lies. The youth enjoy watching bits and pieces of the show, and we have had some great discussions and lessons as a result. I've taught four lessons based on ALIAS so far and have another four planned. I'm actually contemplating putting together a curriculum...

If you're interested in learning what ALIAS is all about, you'll want to read this.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

SO IT BEGINS

It is the beginning of so many things.

1. the beginning of the end of work (I resigned today).
2. the beginning of a new lifestyle (summer sabbatical & then back to school).
3. the beginning of my blog.

resignation ---

I resigned from my job TODAY. I've had the resignation letter in draft form for at least a month and have been tweaking it daily. It's been a good five years, but I'm so ready to move on. I've had some good experiences, learned so much (especially from my first boss, Pat), met some amazing people across the country, and traveled a lot. On the flip side, I've also had some not so good experiences. It has been a rollercoaster ride. During the past year (maybe two), it has been so hard to get out of bed in the morning and come to work, but I'm so glad I stuck it out. I'm so excited about what the future holds...

new lifestyle ---

My last day of work will be June 28th. I'll be taking two months off before going back to school. During those two months, I'm going to frequent the community pool, read some books, finish some crafts I've started (namely a baby blanket for a friend's new baby and a hat for David), and hang out with friends. I'm also going to travel (Atlanta, Pittsburgh, and Taiwan). My time off will end in August when I begin my PhD program at the University of Maryland. I'm a little anxious about being a student again, but more on that in the coming months...

my blog ---

I'm so excited to actually have a blog. I love visiting the blogs of my college roommates, Jill and Sarah. They have been entertaining me for the past year. It has brought me much joy to share in both their day-to-day activities and major life events. I'm looking forwarding to documenting my life and my thoughts here; I also anticipate hours upon hours of self-entertainment. I intend to keep you up-to-date on the day-to-day happenings of my life through my QUICK UPDATES (in the upper right-hand corner of your web page). For the time being, I'll be keeping you abreast of my marathon training (I've entered the lottery to get a spot in the NYC marathon in November), what David and I are doing on our date night, the meal on our dinner table, the book I'm reading, and what I'm watching on TV. Enjoy...